Van Cleef, Sandmeyer and James strike double gold At East Lansing, MI East Lansing, MI -- Tommy Van Cleef, Tyler Sandmeyer and Kellen James each scored double wins during the WKA/Horstman Gold Cup Series Team Simpson Nationals hosted by East ...
Van Cleef, Sandmeyer and James strike double gold At East Lansing, MI
East Lansing, MI -- Tommy Van Cleef, Tyler Sandmeyer and Kellen James each scored double wins during the WKA/Horstman Gold Cup Series Team Simpson Nationals hosted by East Lansing Kart Track in East Lansing, MI July 5-7. Three hundred and forty two sprint kart racers from the US and Canada entered the second Gold Cup national of the 2002 season. Van Cleef, an Advanced Racing Engines powered Invader Kart pilot from North Port, FL started working on his two wins early on taking the event's first feature Precision Industries Briggs Lite. Later that day he posted his second win in the sixth feature Piedmont Kart Shop Briggs Limited Heavy.
"It took a lot of work on the chassis to get it to run this good and you have to have good motors to win here," Van Cleef credited after his second win.
Anne Arundel, MD based King Automotive backed Carlos Ramirez ruled Briggs Lite's qualifying with a 38.905-seconds lap on the 1/2-mile nine turn asphalt road course for the pole. Jim Lipari produced a 38.905-seconds for the outside front row starting position and behind them in row two were Van Cleef and defending national points champion Ryan Cassity.
Ramirez, the current points leader and heat race winner, grabbed the feature's initial lead with Van Cleef and Cassity close behind which is how it would stay until the last lap. Ramirez led the 14-racer field under the white flag and then, while defending his position, he spun out allowing Van Cleef to burst into the lead with less than half the track to go as he held off Cassity who trailed by just 0.447-hundredths of a second.
"It was rough, Carlos (Ramirez) was fast and I want to thank him for being so competitive," Van Cleef admitted. "The Invader kart handled great and my dad's motor was strong the whole time."
Sandmeyer scored his first two national wins that weekend sweeping both Junior Sportsman-1 classes. The 11-year-old Gaithersburg, MD based GT Machine powered Coyote kart pilot dominated Motor Head Racing Engines Briggs Junior Sportsman-1 Lite's 16-racer field from start to finish where he was a comfortable 5.875-seconds ahead of Hayden Duerson.
"The kart handled good and the GT Machine motor ran real nice," Sandmeyer said after his first win.
Sandmeyer did it all in Baker Racing Engines Briggs Junior Sportsman-1 Heavy where a 43.214-seconds lap earned him the pole from where he built a slim 0.556-hundredths of a second finish line advantage over Westley Hopper. He also beat Hopper to the heat race's finish with a comfortable 2.602-seconds cushion.
"You need a real nice engine builder to win two nationals and I want to thank the whole crew at GT Machine they were behind me the whole way. I also want to thank Coyote karts for a good kart and G-Man Kart Works for all of their support as well," Sandmeyer said.
James swept both Briggs Amateur classes with perfection beating Steven Johnson both times. In Saturday's Appco Briggs Amateur Medium James turned a 39.605-seconds lap for the pole and led the 27-racer field for 12-feature laps before taking the final flag with a 1.436-seconds advantage over Johnson. A 40.175-seconds lap earned him Custom Trophy Briggs Amateur Heavy's primer starting position from where he built a 1.510-seconds edge over Johnson the defending national champion and current points leader.
"The Coyote LE kart handled perfect and the Turner Racing Engine is the best motor in the world," said the 19-year-old Beloit, WI based Finnigan RV Center/Paulson Special/CMS Body Works backed winner. "It's tough to come here and win two races, real tough," James admitted. "We had to work real hard got get here and the 00 (Steve Johnson) was real fast. I want to say a special thanks to my dad he's a big help and I couldn't do it without him."
Two more races remain on the WKA/Horstman Gold Cup Series 2002 national schedule. Historic G&J Kartway in Camden, OH will host the MCP Brake Nationals August 9-11 and the season finale GT Machine Grand Nationals will be raced Thanksgiving weekend at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, NC.